First Night Shift, let it be an impression
The refugee camp in Brussels is an other world, it absorbs people who find a sense in life. The main dynamic is that the refugees need the volunteers and the volunteers need the refugees.
The Syrian Crisis in Brussels
The refugees are quite calm, they are now in a safe zone. While the real struggle starts now for the Belgian Citizen. By this I mean, its a great way to advocate for the crisis in Syria. People have been sitting and feeling hopeless for a long time and now they feel that its the moment to do something and they exaggerate.
The Translating Job
I arrived at the base camp of Doctors of the World, and everything was running smoothly. There where the proper refugees of the camp who where volunteering. Also some older nurses. I started my first translation. For me it was harder to translate from Arabic to French, then the way around. Mainly because English is my reference language when it comes to translating. But I was astonished about the ease of the practice. I think there is also a need to have a white middle class Arabic translator, because this is the best way to welcome people in host countries. And immediately show the Refugees the way that to integrate in society is to learn the language. A Moroccan Stewardess and veiled young women with a perfect accent from Antwerp told me how astonishing it is to hear somebody speak perfect Arabic, but still maintain the Belgian identity and Sarcasm, she told told me. This is something to think about.
The Soldiers of the Brussels Refugee Camp
Then I made friends with a Belgian guy, one of the stewards. He told me he was already here for 7 days and that he had slept only 9 hours in 7 days. He sees himself as a soldier, not as a guard to protect the refugees. He told me there are 2 thing happing at night: Fights and Robberies by external people. The stewards are soldiers like they like to be called are mostly young twenty year olds with a problematic life. They didn't seem to have found their place in society and some as I know are high school drop outs. But they created a group of 40 people who work day and night for the refugees in the camp. They use sugar instead of drugs to keep them awake and created an own language with a lot of dialect arabic words to communicate. They forgot they are volunteers and live in a kind of hype. They have walkie talkies and are dispersed over the camp to do their round each one after an other. One time, just in front of field clinic, a guy started running. He communicated through his walkie talkie that he found the thief who was stealing all day long. All of a sudden all the stewards came running like the Simba warriors of Congo one after an other. To catch the thief. Their was turbulence in the camp, but hardly no one noticed it. A clean job. Later the Belgian guy told me that once they chased a thief trough Brussels with taxi's, because he had stolen the wallet with 100 euros in and 2 phones. The moment they found the thief; the money was gone.
Small Adventures at the Field Clinic
In the field clinic we had some small cases. I had to demand the nurses to work systematically, because in medicine its first things first. First the statistics, then the clincal examination, then the diagnose and later the treatment. The statistics always have to come first, because otherwise you forget them. Doctors tend not to give a lot of importance to statistics, but since I am now more a social scientist, than the fundamentalist scientist, I give importance to this. Its astonished me how few of the doctors and nurses of the day shift actually had a connection to their patience. They were clinically perfect, but they where so biological that they forgot they actually had a person before them and not a machine. This is also a cave for the translating job. Once its not exiting anymore you will be translate like a machine. Although these Syrians and Iraqi refugees have always the twinkels in their eyes when I speak their eyes. Its like I am god for them, maybe its because my arabic is close to Koranic Arabic. A lot of the volunteers in clinic are also astonished a Flemish guy from a small town is speaking Arabic apparently fluently. People the world is changing and yes I am not the money driven person who wants to work in the emirates and earn gold. The fact is actually that most foreigners who work in medical field in the emirates are people who got fired for example in the NHS and are now sucking the money out of these states...
My Heros: Samu Social
I met for the first time SAMU SOCIAL, this is an organization I want to work for once. Real people, not like some fakers of Doctors of the World and Doctors With Out border, who are there to hit on girls. For me these people can do the garbage bins. The people of Samu Social are actually quite easy going and experienced. With the medical staff you always have these people who are fully full fillid with their selfs. Once I was one of them, not any more, but I don't want to take revenge or something. I now start to see things differently I think. Maybe when I read things in 5 years I will think differently.
Most dangerous part of town
During the night we heard a lot the tires of car chases and the human toll of the big cities. I was talking to this young Moroccan guy who told me he worked for 911, but now he's volunteering here. He told me one evening the travesties of Metro Ijzer came to see the refugee camp. He asked me if I liked travesties and I told why not, we have to accept diversity. He told but these people have aids are not hygienic and he ran away.
The most difficult part: going home!
The most psychotic moment was actually when I had to go home. I packed my gear an I looked like somebody who had to go to work. Going out I heard the police say that by the end of this week there would be a general briefing about the future of the camp. I didn't see any police during the night, we where alone in one of the most dangerous parts of town. Then I saw the people on bicycles who were feeling empathic with the refugees. Then I entered the big road to the train station. I was going in the opposite way of the mass of Flemish people who where going to work. I asked myself is this real life or just occupational therapy. To keep these people in line and give them the possibility for a life. It was actually a quarter to 9 in the train station, so these are the nigh to five people. Then I toughed I am not part of this society, but there is place for everybody... I have the problem I have a decent sandwich job as a photographer, where I have to be extremely flexible, but its the job I like. Is this what makes these people so intolerant or is it the boredom of life. I earn shit, but I like what I do. I won't be able to buy a house on my own in my life and raise children like a normal person. Although I think that at the end of my life I will had a full life and this I will have done by my self. Is this self full filled?
A Bit of Auto Critic and Reflexion
Comparing is always difficult and maybe I am generalizing to much, but is was my first evening. So look at this text as an impression. Some people will find arrogance in this text, but I am still a person who learns in his life. So give me a break, I am young and I didn't take the easy road in life, because I want something more then only happiness for myself, friends and my family. Also I didn't take the easy road and this road made me feel naked in every possible way. Maybe the best thing is that I didn't survive once le néant, but several times. So I can coop with a lot of things and situations...
P.S. Now I go to sleep. The goal is to continue to work until the camp closes.